Interrupting the usual posts about building a marketing strategy and random other business side posts to discuss the Coronavirus. It’s 3/18 when I’m writing this. At this time, Canada’s restricting international travel and we’re going to go into lockdown further in the next 2 weeks.

Some things to note:

– we double infected cases every 6 days

– anything we do TODAY is going to affect cases 2 weeks from now (2-14 days for symptoms to show)

– for MINOR cases of the coronavirus, the infected stop being carriers around 10 days after symptoms start (i.e. recovery has begun). This might be untrue (again, data is still being collected); but it’s the closest and best data I’ve seen.

So, how long is this going to take to play out?

– at least a few months. IF we manage to shut infections down for a few weeks, reduce the peak (as Toronto seems to be doing now), we can expect infections to slow down. Eventually, most people are going to get infected, but if we can keep hospitals from being flooded, we can make sure most people survive.

But… long-term effects

Well, I can guess on some of them:

– a global recession. Even if China recovers faster (supply), don’t forget that demand is falling off too.  

– lowered interest rates (already done, might go lower!). This is bad in the US case since a lot of those levers have been pulled. Canada, not so much. But it’s possible we’ll end up lowering interest rates further still.

– much lower stock market. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of the dropping stock market. Next quarter earning reports are going to come out and we’re going to see a hit. People are losing jobs, tourism is going to take a long time to recover (at least until end of summer I’d guess, maybe until next year). Add the oil war and… 

If you have free money, buying isn’t a bad idea in a few months.  Watch out for dead cat bounces though – there’s been a ton and there’ll be more. We’re already at Dec 2016 levels (19,000 on the DOW) and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.

– potential long-term consequences to health market stocks and real estate availability. The virus hits the elderly the most. If you’re over 60, the rate hits 3%+. Over 80 and you’re at 14%+. 

Effects on real estate might take a year or two to play out. Trustee / receivership and all that mess takes a bit, and if there are that many deaths, people are going to be flooded trying to deal with  it.  This again depends on whether / how many get infected. In either cases, this is NOT going to be good. 

– tourism, F&B, hospitality and a lot of small businesses are going to be hammered. Marginal businesses are going to close, because even having rent & salaries waived might not be enough for these businesses. And if landlords aren’t waiving the rents… most retail businesses see a 1/3 of their expenses go to rent at the least.

If these landlords / real estate companies do waive rent for a bit, expect their quarterly / annual earnings to take the hit. See stock market above.

– in general, entertainment is consumed more during times of stress & recession. This is, however, AFTER the big event becomes the norm. Right now, indie authors I know have seen a drop in sales because a lot of people are focused on the coronavirus news. Until it becomes the norm, this is not going to change. I expect it’ll be at least a few more weeks before that happens.

What Can You (An Indie Author) Do?

Relook at your budget and make sure you can survive at least 6 months if not a year of lowered revenue. Where you can, adjust your expenses to make sure you can.

If you can afford it, keep spending where you can.  A LOT of small businesses are going to be struggling. Where you can (and again, ONLY if you can), spend to help. Gift cards have been recommended.

Get moving on promotions. I’ve noticed that scheduled promos still help push things up. My recent promo for Life in the North saw an increase in sales for the series still. Maybe not as much, but the lever still works

Don’t necessarily give away free books. I know we all want to help, but if EVERYONE gives away books, people are going to be flooded with them and aren’t going to be buying. Which hurts… everyone.

If you can continue to afford advertising, don’t stop. Research has shown that companies that continue advertising through a recession see better returns on brand recall than those who stop. 

Lastly, widen your revenue funnel. Don’t rely on just one method / one retailer / one type of book to make your money. 

As a personal example, my income comes from:

– comics (distributed on Amazon, Comixology and wide)

– a short story anthology

– 4 different series

– Patreon

– audiobooks (both Audible, iTunes and even wider to Hoopla and the like). Audiobooks make up about 27% of all my income earned. Ever.

– print books (on both Amazon & wide via Ingram Sparks)

– ebooks (both direct sales, wide via Apple, Google, etc and Kindle Unlimited).

– affiliate income

– sold short stories (eventually. I’m still waiting for contracts…)

direct sales via Payhip 

On Going Wide 

Going wide isn’t for everyone. Even with 2 series wide, last year I made less than $2k. It requires a different promotion strategy, a different marketing one. It takes a long time to get traction for some of this. Things like print is easy(ish); but again, it requires an upfront commitment in time and money.

But, I will note that I figured out marketing for it at last towards the end of the year. I already doubled print book sales and expect to see audiobooks to do the same by the end of the year – if not more. Same with ebooks. 

I’d almost think that wide is perfect for backlists that are slowly fading away on Amazon. But, that’s just my (limited) experience.

The advantage of going wide, of having multiple retailers and sources of income is that there’s often blips. In totality, my income stabilises a lot more than being reliant on any one area. 

One Last Note

Talk to people. Be nice to each other. It’s going to be tough for a lot of people. And where you can, help others. It’s going to be a rough and uncertain few months, so read, write and chat with authors or friends when you can. It’s not the end of the world, just a new normal. 

And there will be opportunities if you keep an eye out for them.

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